Fresh off last week’s announcement of Epic’s Unreal Engine 4 switching to a free-to-use business model, Valve has announced that Source Engine 2 will be absolutely free.
The engine will be absolutely free for anybody to use, provided that games using Source Engine 2 must be released on Steam. Additionally, in contrast to their competitors, Valve’s Source Engine 2 will have no royalties attached, through releasing a game on Steam ensures Valve a 30% cut in the game’s profits.
Strictly speaking in financials though, it’s still a better deal for game developers to use Valve’s engine. For example: a game developer uses Unreal Engine 4, they have to pay Epic a royalty cost of 5% per quarter if their game grosses over $3000; add to that the Valve’s cut of 30% if the developer seeks to release the game on Steam. Contrast that to a developer using Source 2 which only has that 30% cut for Valve because of Steam. It’s important to note, however, that as long as their games are also sold on Steam, developers using Source 2 are free to use other means of distribution.
Overall, this seems like a glowing recommendation for any potential game developer to use Source Engine 2. In this growing series of one-uppings, let’s see if another company decides to make the leap to a free model for use of their engines. My bet is on Crytek making a similar move in the near future with CryEngine 3, which currently uses a $9.90 per month subscription model without royalties.